How do I Choose the Best Weaving Materials?

Tara Barnett

Choosing the best weaving materials depends on the project. For instance, weaving a basket requires vastly different materials than weaving a scarf. Most weaving projects, though, involve at least two kinds of materials: the material being woven together and the tools used to weave. A significant amount of personal preference is involved when selecting materials.

The type of weaving materials depends on the project.
The type of weaving materials depends on the project.

A good way to start thinking about how to choose the best weaving materials is thinking about the kind of project that is being made. If the item needs to be strong, such as a basket or a chair seat, then the materials woven together must also be relatively sturdy. In some cases, the most fragile of fibers can turn into strong materials when woven together, so the strength required is always relative to the project. Projects that will be worn next to the skin will usually wind up softer than projects such as baskets, and so these items require less harsh materials. Even so, people have woven clothes out of metal threads, so even this requirement is relative.

Mercerized cotton is popular for weaving, as it does not stretch out.
Mercerized cotton is popular for weaving, as it does not stretch out.

In many cases, the materials that are considered the most fine are also considered the most authentic. For instance, the best weaving materials for a basket might be oak or hickory instead of reeds. Materials such as grasses and reeds used for basket weaving are not necessarily expensive or inherently fine, but when they are prepared in a traditional way, they are often considered better than other comparable materials. Genuine leather is also considered a better material than faux replacements.

Hand looms can be used to weave intricate patterns by hand.
Hand looms can be used to weave intricate patterns by hand.

Yarns, which are the basis of many woven items, are also highly versatile. The yarn used to warp a loom, for example, must be strong enough not to break, but the weft yarns may be very fragile. For beginning weavers, it can be difficult to tell what the finished product will look like when working with different yarns. This is only due in part to the yarn. The other part is essentially a result of trial and error, meaning you need to work with different yarns to understand each versions potential.

A tight warp and weft pattern may be weaved using a shuttle weaving machine.
A tight warp and weft pattern may be weaved using a shuttle weaving machine.

Some of the better yarns available for weaving are those made of mercerized cotton. These yarns do not stretch much, which makes weaving easier. Many people also enjoy weaving with wool yarns for strength and warmth. It is generally recommended that weaving yarns be of a consistent thickness to avoid the appearance of thinness is some parts of the fabric.

The tools used to weave are also highly variable. When it comes to weaving, some people use cards, others looms, and some no tools at all. There are beautifully made weaving materials, such as some antique floor looms or traditional Native American looms, but the most important feature of these materials for weaving is usability. The best weaving tools are the ones that work easily and are capable of producing the designs desired in the finished piece.

In general, the best weaving tools are the ones that can be used for the most projects because these require no further investment. Floor looms are often the most versatile, although they can be very time consuming to set up, even for small projects. Some looms are specially designed to make a specific kind of project, such as the way that weaving cards are used almost exclusively to make bands. These may be the best kind of weaving tool for the type of project they were intended to complete.

There are so many different traditions and uses that every material has a place in the weaving universe. Some people weave with truly non-traditional materials, such as spider silk or human hair, in attempts to make unique or meaningful woven items. The guiding rule for choosing the best weaving materials should be that the materials must fit the project, and the end result must be satisfying to the weaver. Other than that, any material is fair game.

Weaving yarn is usually more durable than knitting yarn.
Weaving yarn is usually more durable than knitting yarn.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


The first thing you need to do is decide on what type of project you want to make before you choose your materials. There are so many styles, patterns and projects to choose from that the hardest thing is deciding which one to try first.

I think one of the best ways to start is try to attend a class to learn the basics. They will usually have a very basic pattern to follow and most times you will be creating a basket. There are also many weaving supplies and free patterns available online once you get the hang of it.


Basket weaving is a fun project for people of all ages. I ordered some inexpensive reed basket making kits from the Oriental Trading Company for something different for my kids to work on during the summer.

The kits are nice because they come complete with everything you need for a project. Once you learn the basic skills, the steps can be repeated to make many more. This also gives them a great sense of accomplishment and a place for them to store some of their items in a basket they made themselves.


I visited a woolen shop while on vacation a few years ago. In the back corner of this shop they had a couple of weaving looms set up with people working the looms. One of them was very large, and it was so interesting to watch the pieces of yarn and how they wound around the loom to make a big rug.

I did not end up buying a rug, but bought two beautiful woven scarves that have very unique patterns to them. They are made of wool, so they are very warm, but the only downside is that they are not as easy to clean.

Post your comments
Forgot password?